Finding the Hook — One Small Change

They say every opening needs a hook. And sometimes it’s tough to find that hook. Take this opening for The New Serfdom.

“For just a moment, it’s a scene frozen in time — a diorama — like the pictures of museum displays that I’d seen in Nolan’s books when we were kids. Overhead is a clear blue sky without a single cloud, not the usual weather for this time of year. The condemned man is kneeling on the ground, his hands bound behind him, a guard on each side, close enough to prevent any attempt to get up and run. Off to one side, the remaining six lifers are standing with their own guards, silent witnesses to the execution of one of their own. Behind them stands a cluster of senior cadets, nervous and trying not to show it. I can’t blame them for being nervous; this is a first for all of us, and it isn’t going to be easy, not for anyone.”

That’s pretty much the original version except for a few small edits. I liked the idea of a diorama, and there’s really nothing wrong with it. But it lacks something because a diorama is static by nature, and then it’s immediately followed by the dreaded description of the weather. What to do? How about —

“The condemned man was kneeling on the ground, his hands bound behind him, a guard on each side, close enough to prevent any attempt to get up and run. For just a moment, it was a scene frozen in time — a diorama — like the pictures of museum displays that I’d seen in Nolan’s books when we were kids. Overhead was a clear blue sky without a single cloud, unusual weather for this time of year. Off to one side, the remaining six lifers were flanked by their guards, silent witnesses to the execution of one of their own. Behind them was a cluster of senior cadets, nervous and trying not to show it. I couldn’t blame them for being nervous; this was a first for all of us, and it wasn’t going to be easy, not for anyone.”

It makes more sense to say it was a scene frozen in time when we already know a little bit about the scene. Still to come is an explanation of the weather (blue sky and shirtsleeve weather in mid-winter). It should be easy, but it’s not important enough to drag it out, so I’m working out how to say it in the fewest possible words.

Editing isn’t just about getting the spelling, grammar and word choice right.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Finding the Hook — One Small Change

  1. I love moving the words and sentences around so they flow instead of sounding clunky and clumsy. And it’s so satisfying when everything just ‘clicks’ . Very informative post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s